Tag Archives: womenandretirement

A Retiring Mind: Part IV: Amoke’s at it Again

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

My retiring mind is on the mends.  It’s a fighter!  I’m on the other side of a health crisis. Physical conditions finally identified, and I have clear directives for maintaining my physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

My days begin in deep gratitude.  I wake up.  Others don’t.  I’m not in pain.  I herd bottles of pills around, vitamins and minerals and one for blood pressure, until I get them all down, generally needing 2-3 cups of tea to do so.

tea time

I make it my job to laugh at least 3 times daily.  The shaking, hurting belly laughter, you know, that breaks out from between your legs, whereas you just might pee yourself, if not sling snot, piggy snort or cry.  Sometimes I laugh at myself.

I’m at that age where you have to have TESTS and PROCEDURES that nobody really wants to talk about: example, the colonoscopy.  At my appointment, I arrived feeling confident about the necessity for this procedure and what to expect.  I balked upon entering a very crowded waiting room.  My ticket was number 26.  I took a seat and summoned my big girl attitude.

My name was called.  I was ushered to a room, guided through changing into a gown and positioning myself on a table.  I would watch the exploration of my guts on a big screen.  I thought the whole thing to be cool, like my own Magic Science Bus adventure.

I greeted and asked the doctor, “Have you really seen 25 assholes today”?  She blanched but continued her preparations.  Her nurse struggled to keep a straight face.  My excitement and curiosity blinded social decorum, “What kind of doctor are you?  What did you have to study”?  I continued my own bedside banter.  The doctor muttered something about gastrointestinal something or other.  She was quick, thorough and seemed surprised that she didn’t discover nothing from rooter to tooter.

Fast forward.  Last week, I began a more aggressive response to the arthritis along my spine’s lumbar region.  A young physician and two assistants injected epidurals into my lower back to shrink bulging herniated disks and relieve pain, spasms and numbness in both legs and feet.  I was positioned face down on a table.  My pants were rolled and tucked to reveal the small of my back and a behind that gives “mooning” a whole new concept.  Think, “A Total Eclipse of the Heart” (as in cardiac arrest) or “Bad Moon Rising”. They informed me about possible discomfort as the series of injections begin.

As the team worked, they chatted about a ten dollar taxable bonus check gained for their personal healthy health practices.  What could you buy with less than ten dollars, they lamented.  The physician, young and slim said, “SUBWAY”!  She loved SUBWAY!  They discussed in details the variety of breads and endless combinations of meats, cheeses and veggies.  Mind you, I was being stabbed in my behind. They asked if I liked SUBWAY.  I told them about how I loved a very carefully constructed BLT Footlong on wheat, with spinach instead of lettuce.

We were all done in about 20 minutes.  I was sat up, stood on my feet and given after-care instructions.  Did I need a wheelchair?  I bristled.  I was independent and capable.  I stepped, and my right hip swung like a wagon turning a treacherous corner.  Tried again, and my step produced a swagger and a slow dragging foot.  I walked like a pimp! They assured me this would pass.  I told them that I really hoped they wouldn’t think of my butt every time they went to SUBWAY.  We laughed. I t wasn’t the socially polite and awkward giggling but deep women’s laughter.  I accepted the wheelchair.

Despite trekking along a path I never imagined to take, I remain really optimistic.  I take my vitamin L (for laughter) as often as I like, it’s addictive!  It’s real medicine.

She knows it, too.

Amoke Kubat

I’m a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.

 

A Retiring Mind Part II

Amoke Kubat
Amoke Kubat

Move over James T. Kirk, a retiring mind left to its own, totally uninterrupted and undiminished possession, goes beyond the final frontier. My fist size chunk of grey matter becomes my private Intergalactic Teleporter. I am the Queen of Flashback and Flash dancing memories!

Mind you, minding me, is a mix of guilty pleasure and alarming revelations. My mind jumps back to things half thought, wishful imagination and unsolicited information that hungers for a future that I have yet to charter with certainty. Some memories are surprising, others are stunners.

In 1968, I decided to stop wearing sanitary belts with Kotex as large as manhole covers.

Remember?
Remember?

(One of my friends did call them just that). These pads were like riding in a saddle. If you were a bleeder like me, an accident could gush out at any moment from back or front or both. One day I CHOSE to switch and use a new way to sop up my oozing womanliness. I got me a box of compressed cotton, less conspicuous, for the modern woman, TAMPONS. Proud of myself, I swaggered home with a variety of sizes that promised “going with the flow” like a real natural woman. I decided to become an expert: I practiced taking care of business with my new hygienic tools that severed the legacy of taking the rag off the bush.

I loved peeling off the thin wrappers of the tiny little feminine things. Holding my breath, stilling shaking legs, I pushed Tampon number one up a chute never travelled. It was a bit snug but not uncomfortable.  It pulled out easily enough. I was fascinated that something no bigger than my pinkie could swell, clog and hold back my monthly monsoon. So, Tampon number two, a larger size, was inserted. I walked around with my secret intact. I did a happy dance! It did not move! Who would know? I was now a woman of mystery. “Oh really” TAMPON number three, the largest, asked my body. Then it sucked up all mystery, ritual and moisture. No amount of pulling released the dry knot of cockeyed liberation from my body. You know you have a friend for life when your girlfriend comes to your rescue, respectively demonstrates a surgical skill for removing a foreign object, and does not ask any questions.

In 1975, I lived with a cannibal and two Jesuses. I lived commune style in a large Victorian House off Portobello Road in London. portobellos rd.The cannibal lived in the basement. We seldom interacted and rarely spoke to each other. I only went downstairs to bar-b-que on a homemade grill on hotter summer days. He never licked his lips over sizzling ribs with my secret sauce. He didn’t stand around telling me stories or appeared hungry as I made plates to sell to homesick Americans on Portobello Road. He always seemed sleepy and slow and quite possibly satiated. I wondered who he had eaten. However my pervasive shyness and southern sensibilities told me that was too personal of a question to ask.

On the other hand, it was impossible to not get personal with Jesus the Pure (as he was blond) and Jesus the Dark (who was a bit mangy looking). They lived in the hallways on separate floors. They were drawn together like magnets. They constantly fought and had to be pulled apart. Depending on who interrupted their epic battle, one or the other and sometimes both got thrown outside. They would fly at each other and use fists, feet and teeth. They never said a word as they delivered and received punches that knocked holes into walls, shattered glass and broke stairway banisters. Neither ever preached nor sang the gospels in the presence or absence of the other. My guess was that the forces of light and dark was really an on-going universal struggle.

Later, I discovered, “For F**** sake keep Jesus out” written on the walls, just as I opened the door for a visitor.  Under that somebody had scrawled, “Which one?” More written, “They both can go to hell”. The visitor and I stared at the wall. I had a nagging sense she thought I had wrote it. I was an 22 year old colored woman far from my Southern Los Angeles home and the very racist, newly integrating America.

I wonder how these two very specific memories serve me. What are the lessons?  Are they worth keeping or sweeping? Am I in the throes of another individuation process? I survived the parallel journeys from girl, maiden to crone and colored to black to American of African descent. memoriesAs an Elder, I am racing towards the finish line to get to my fullest humanity. I am going into a deeper space. I pray to enjoy and remember.

Amoke Kubat is a writer, artist and community elder living and working in North Minneapolis, Minnesota.  http://amokekubat.com 

http://www.livingwombceremonies.com/

 

 

 

A Retiring Mind

Amoke Kubat

I first met Amoke Awele Kubat at the Southeast Women’s Herbal Conference in Asheville several years ago where she lead a heartfelt and authentic storytelling workshop for women.  I’ve been asking her for years to write something for Oops50.com, and now that she has retired, we are happy to have her blog with us.

Amoke is also a published author of Missing Mama: My Story of Loss, Sorrow and Healing , a deeply personal and universal story of mother loss.  She feels that internalized grief, due to loss and trauma, has become as intrinsic as any other internalized oppression.  

Annice

Missing Mamma

 

When I turned 60, I told my daughter that I was having a mid-life crisis.  She said that was good.  I was going to live to be 120.  I replied that I was done.  I was done being a teacher, a parent, friend, and associate to a whole lot of emotional entanglements.  I no longer wanted to wake up exhausted, give up 15 hours of my day, then come home foraging for energy by over-eating.  I started to ponder the possibility of retiring – early.

I started asking women who were retired what life was like after working? Their responses differed. One told me she didn’t like it.  Her husband was dead and she was estranged from her adult children.  She didn’t have access to her grandchildren.  The people at Bingo were her family.  Another woman told me that she had “deep cleaned” her house, read one book a week and now was enjoying her first grandchild.

Then I was alarmed by my best friend’s response.  She felt guilty.  We met when I was 14, almost 50 years ago.  She was struggling with being retired.  She felt like she was mooching off the government.  I hardly contained my tongue. “You are not a slave!”  I yelled. “Why do you feel this way?” I asked.

She felt this way because she had not waited until she was 70 to quit working!  We both had started working in our early teens.

I asked Spirit to send me a sign.  If statistics were true, I had 12.2 more good years.  If I was on my dirty dozen years left journey, I needed to get busy.  I began to write my “Bucket List”.  

This list changes frequently.

The sign came.  As I checked in for my eye surgery to remove cataracts, the receptionist reviewed my intake information.  She noticed my age.  She was bubbly.  “I’m 62 too,” she said.  She also told me that she was retiring in 4 months.  I asked what lead her to this decision.  She said, “Most of my friends that retired at 66 and older and were dead in 1-2 years.  Not me.  I want to enjoy my life!”  I retired in February 1, 2013.

A “Retiring Mind ” is a danger to itself and others.  On the first day I retired, I woke up and shot out of bed as was my normal morning routine.  I raced through the house to look outside.  I live in Minnesota.  Last year this time, it was in the high 70’s.  This year we had ice, snow, and single digit wind chills.  Then I looked at my Bose.  I had a startling revelation.  I was not giving “stink eye” to the clock!  Time was no longer my adversary!  I went skipping through the house.  I sat in my rocker naked!  I grinned until my face hurt!  I began to sing and made up my new life theme songs.  “I don’t have to do that”.  “I have all the time in the world”.  “For the rest of my life”.  “I feel like a newly freed slave.”  I was giddy with excitement.  My mind raced with possibilities.

I have no map for this road trip called retirement.  The IRS defines retirement as “willful termination of employment with no intent to seek a new job after age 55”.  (Hell yeah!!)  I have had to wrestle down the “I gotta do demons”.   I have had to harshly counsel myself when my “internal overseer” wants me to “occupy” and “account for” every minute of my time.

I have seen more TV and DVD’s than ever.  I am reading until 3 and 4 a.m.  I am writing, writing, writing.  I am slowly de-cluttering my house of work related stuff.  I am telling well-meaning people that I don’t want any more jobs.  I don’t want to join them in their projects.  I have learned to say no.

I am reacquainting myself with me and the things I love, like music.  I played an old favorite, “It’s Raining Men” loudly, repeatedly while singing and dancing with abandon!  I am calling one friend a week and having deeper more meaningful conversations.

I have made tender discoveries.  Finding a frosted crystal necklace in an old velvet box, I realized I had been saving it to wear on a special occasion.  I realized I had never worn it.  It shook me to acknowledge that in 25 years, I had not had a special occasion or special day?  I wore it all that day.

What I love most about being retired is – simply, being.

BIO:  

Amoke Awele Kubat(M.Ed) is a north side Minneapolis resident who has been involved in empowering families since 1987.  She is a teacher, artist and writer who partners with community artists, activists and organizations to bridge African/American culture and cultural legacies for healing and building sustainable families and communities.  Amoke uses art making, storytelling and education to women, as mothers and first teachers of their children for mapping memory to generational trauma (personal and systemic) and facilitating healing through individualized action steps for recovery.  She has used her skills to work with international youth 12- 25 who participated in The Children of War.  She has worked with bi-racial adoptees, Native American, Korean, and African American, to reconnect them to their mother culture and assist them on their journeys to a holistic self- identity and actualization.